By Leon Stafford, Christian Boone and Alexis Stevens The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — Chase Maddox was a natural-born police officer, said a childhood friend. The Georgia newlywed, whose second child is due any day, was the only one of Locust Grove’s 23 officers hired straight out of high school, a fulfillment of his desire to protect and serve.
Early Friday afternoon, Maddox, 26, was deployed to back up two Henry County deputies attempting to serve what they assumed would be a routine arrest warrant. But the suspect — who had failed to show for a court date — was recalcitrant and after about 10 minutes it was clear the deputies were going to have to force him out of his home on a nondescript Locust Grove cul-de-sac, Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer told reporters.
Then, as one of the deputies would tell his brother, “it all went south.”
Bullets were exchanged, and all four men were hit. The suspect, who authorities identified late Friday as 39-year-old Tierra Guthrie, was killed. The two deputies, Michael D. Corley and Ralph Sidwell “Sid” Callaway were saved by their bullet-proof vests. Maddox was shot in the head.
He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Atlanta Medical Center, the first Georgia peace officer killed by a gun in 2018. Corley was shot in the side, the bullet piercing through his protective vest, said his brother, Wade Corley. He underwent surgery Friday but his injuries are non-life-threatening. Callaway was treated and released.
Josh Garrison said he and Maddox became friends when they were 9 years old. Maddox was the more outgoing one, “always willing to try anything,” he said. “You wanted to hang around Chase. He was crazy in a good way.”
Maddox’s decision to become a police officer came as no shock to Garrison.
“I wasn’t surprised when he went straight into the force. I knew he would be perfect for that,” he said. “He wanted to help people, so that made sense why he chose that job.”
Friends remembered Maddox’s quick smile and easy-going manner. Becca Bonner, who said she’s known Maddox since kindergarten, couldn’t fathom the reality that her friend wouldn’t be going home Friday night to his pregnant wife, Alex.
“I am angry that we live in a world where a police officer can’t do the most basic duty and serve an arrest warrant,” Bonner wrote on Facebook. “I am angry that people can be so selfish and cold. I am angry that men and women who live every day protecting even the most unworthy of people have to wonder if they will make it home tonight.”
Michael Corley was still in shock when he talked to his brother on the cellphone, minutes after he was shot in the side.
“Get those boys to me as fast you can,” Michael Corley told his brother. Wade Corley said he was with his brother’s sons at the time.
Michael Corley is a 20-year law enforcement veteran, just six years from retirement. Callaway is in his second stint with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department.
McBrayer said his deputies had no reason to believe the suspect was dangerous when they arrived, considering the warrant was for failure to appear on unpaid parking fines. An as-yet undetermined number of gunshots were exchanged once the deputies and Maddox made entry into the house on St. Francis Court. There were additional people in the house at the time but no one else was injured, McBrayer said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident, as they do whenever an officer is involved in a shooting.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Maddox was the eighth officer in the United States shot and killed in the line of duty this year.
(Journal-Constitution data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this story.)
©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)